The future of every country is in her young. And their welfare and upbringing should be the business of everyone. For Olusegun Okebioruon, assuming the duty of nuturing young minds after retiring from the civil service is the best thing that happened to him. Interview by Victoria Omuya Usman

I keep myself going with the business of nurturing young minds…

As a retiree, I keep myself going with the business of nurturing young minds. So what is normal for me is to wake up very late every day, most times between 9 and 10am. Have breakfast, relax a bit, watch television and after a while, around 1 o’clock or there about, I come to the office here in Kingsville, to see to the day to day running of things. I go back home later in the day around 4 or 4:30pm and resume watching television or listening to some music till I go to bed.

At some point, we didn’t have enough money…

We started very small in 1997 with the primary school in Lagos. We used the dividend from that to complete the school structure in a short period of time. When I came to Abuja in 2002, I needed accommodation. I stumbled on a property and was encouraged to talk with the owner. I did and he told me what it would cost. I didn’t have any money at the time so I spoke with a few people including friends and my wife in Lagos who was in charge of the primary school there. We gathered all the money we had together and secured that place so that in six months, I started another primary school here. That school also thrived very well and after two years I realised that I was not really cut out for primary school business that is the reason my wife takes care of the one in Lagos. So I was ready for a secondary school. Though it was difficult, we upgraded with time.

Our bankers came to our assistance…

After that, I added the little money I had then called about two other people to contribute to the takeoff which they did, those people are still shareholders in the business. That was how we started. After five years, we were able to procure the land where we are today. Another two years later, having put some materials on site, we started the first and second building. By the time we got to the roofing level, our bankers came to our assistance. They came to me and asked if I still needed the loan I applied for a few years back and my response was that I needed it. That is how they began to give me one loan after another that we paid back.

If there is no work in your hands, there is nothing for God to bless…

We emphasise three values: hard work, discipline and faith in God. I believe that no matter how much you work, if God does not bless it, you are joking. If you want God to bless you again, then you must work. That is what is missing in Nigeria today. People believe that they can make it without working. They pray and believe that because someone has said where they did not work they will reap, they agree and say amen. But God himself said I will bless the work of your hands. So if there is no work in your hands, there is nothing for God to bless. I think that we have made our own input in this place and God has blessed us.

Moral standard is one of our priorities…

My major goal is to raise good citizens that will be of immense value to this country in the very near future. That is why in this school, we ensure that moral standard is one of our priorities; that is apart from the fact that we ensure good academic environment and provisions. We have had to deal with some parents who felt like their children should not be disciplined. But at the end of the day, they had to back off and let us do our job. Some of them even came back to apologise. You will agree with me that children are not well disciplined these days. But when they come here, we don’t care where they are coming from. Whether you are the child of a senator, a minister or just anybody in the society, we expect that you are disciplined and if you are not, we discipline you.

Each time we had money one way or another, we reinvested it…

The major challenge that we experienced was with our landlords. At some point, all the ones we had kept asking us to move. The third landlord was asking us to go because he wanted to sell the house and he offered to sell to us at N100m which we didn’t have. What made moving more difficult at the time was the population of the children that was already growing. So to save the situation, since this place was already secured, we moved here. By the time we finished building the population exploded and more money was coming in. Each time we had money one way or another, we reinvested it. For me it was not a case of making money from the school and spending it.

That we are making steady progress actually propels me…

That we are making steady progress actually propels me. The progress I’m talking about is not just the many students that we admit or how big the school is. It is about the success that we record every year after the national exams. Every time I think about it, it gives me joy and happiness. That in our school, for seven years now, all the students’ that we graduated, all passed their exams excellently. They all made their papers and before you know it, they are in the university.

I sleep a lot these days to unwind…

As a family, we all work together in this business. As an educationist, my wife has a very high responsibility as far as running the school is concerned. We believe in God and we play God by helping people that are in need. It gives me joy. I sleep a lot these days to unwind. In the evening I go to the gym to do some little exercise, come back home, have dinner and go to sleep again.

Leaders must do all they need to do to leave the organisations better than they met it…

Heads of organisations must allow God to rule their lives; that is primary. Leaders must do all they need to do to leave the organisations better than they met it. If we all aspire to leave a place better than we met it, then we will strive to put some values into the system. You would also have improved on what you met. If we all have that in mind, then the whole country will make progress.

Contentment in whoever you are and whatever you have is important…

All of us cannot be heads of organisations; that is basic. But few would. It is God that choses leaders. So for any young person who finds him or herself heading and organisation tomorrow, you must first learn to work very hard and make sure your goal is to leave that place better than you met it. Children of today should not be over ambitious about being rich because wealth is not the main thing in life. Money is not all in all either. But contentment in whoever you are and whatever you have is important. Just work hard, irrespective of what you become in future, work hard.